Bracero Oral History
Biographical Synopsis of Interviewee
Santos Cruz Hernández was born on January 1, 1924, on an ejido in the small municipality of Doctor Arroyo, Nuevo León, México; he came from a big family with fourteen siblings; his father worked on an hacienda caring for livestock; Santos was not formally educated, but he learned a lot from his father; by the time Santos was fourteen years old, he was helping his father care for the animals; in 1945, Santos enlisted in the bracero program; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, Michigan and Texas, picking apples, beans, beets, cotton, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and oranges; he obtained nine different bracero contracts in total.
Summary of Interview
Mr. Cruz briefly talks about his family and his parents in particular; he recalls the difficulties they faced living on an ejido; in 1942, he learned about the bracero program and how some men worked on the railroads; a few years later, in 1945, he decided to enlist in the program; he usually traveled by bus to the contracting centers with groups of fifteen to thirty men; roughly eighty men from his ejido joined the program; from the center in Monterrey, Nuevo León, México, he was transported to Hidalgo, Texas, where ranchers picked the workers they wanted; as a bracero, he labored in the fields of Arkansas, Michigan and Texas, picking apples, beans, beets, cotton, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and oranges; he goes on to detail the various worksites, camp sizes, duties, treatment, correspondence and recreational activities; his first contract was only sixty days, but after returning to México, he obtained a new contract a week later; he also explains the differences between working in Texas and Arkansas; moreover, in Lubbock, Texas he was able to earn good money; his favorite place to work was in Michigan, where he was treated especially well; the wives of his employers saw him as another son, which afforded him a great working relationship; in total, he obtained nine different bracero contracts; overall, he has positive memories of his time with the program.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
Length of Transcript
GMR Transcription Services
Interview with Santos Cruz Hernández by Mireya Loza, 2008, "Interview no. 1431," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.